Let’s create with IBM
Many of my earliest memories of computers while growing up in the 1980s revolve around IBM. Whether playing games on my PC or watching NASA videos with Mission Control computers in action, computers meant IBM.
Fast forward to the late 2000s and I joined IBM as a consultant for our IT operations solutions. I often compared the work my clients were doing, in supporting their own business applications, to that of NASA engineers in mission control — keeping their systems available & performing properly.
In my mind, while I was solving problems and building solutions, I was continuing and building on the work of the IBMers who had come before me, including those who had helped land a man on the Moon — let’s set aside the fact that it had happened decades earlier, thousands of kilometers away and on completely different systems, I still smiled a proud little smile when I happened to think about it :)
One of the main reasons that IBM, and IBM’s solutions, have remained relevant — and central — to businesses across the globe for over a century has been because of the way IBM reinvents itself and creates new solutions time after time. Did you know that one of our first “Business Machines” was a Cheese Slicer?
The funny thing is that the thread that links the humble cheese slicer to the most advanced Quantum Computer goes through so many other IBM creations, which include gems such as Bar Code Scanners, Fractal Geometry, billions of dollars into early Linux, Relational Databases, and computers ranging from the largest Mainframes to the smallest PCs & laptops. The achievements of IBM innovative creators include six Nobel Prizes and six Turing Awards!
Of course, my personal favourite IBM innovations include the legendary computers in Mission Control, Houston. These have been described as a central part of the program which “reached forward to pluck pieces out of the twenty-first century and splicing them into the middle of the twentieth“ (astronaut and Last Man on the Moon, Gene Cernan)
Now, 22 years (or 21, depending on whether you count from 2000 or 2001) into the twenty-first century, IBM is loudly saying “Let’s Create!”
IBM creates solutions, such as the Cloud Paks I worked with, which ensure that we are:
- Connecting the right data to the right people at the right time for more holistic and efficient AI outcomes.
- Enabling IT systems to better build, deploy and scale withing and across clouds.
- Making work simpler, faster and more rewarding through advancements in automation and AI.
- Ensuring that security is wrapped around every device, every interaction, every time.
- Collaborating closely with our clients, innovating openly and turning ideas into action.
I’ve been proud to be a creator throughout my career in IBM. Whether I was deploying systems, resolving issues, working out improvements to human processes, or breaking down cultural silos, these were all acts of creation — taking the raw material of the products (which had often been created by other IBMers) and tailoring them to the specific needs of my clients.
Many of these creations ended up as documents or other assets which were shared with other IBMers, to help them create better solutions themselves for their own clients.
The best assets were often shared publicly — published in websites such as the IBM Method Site, presented at conferences such as Chaos Carnival, SRECon, DevOps, and even printed in the form of handy little booklets such as the AIOps field guide and the CSMO field guide.
I’m fortunate in that I’ve been able to recreate my role within IBM many times in the nearly-decade-and-a-half that I’ve been with the company. So far I’ve been consistently in the domains of IT Operations, Service Management, Site Reliability Engineering, ChatOps, Observability, and AIOps and almost always directly with clients.
This year I’m taking a new challenge in IBM and joining the CIO office as part of the team responsible for the Hybrid Clouds which power the internal systems IBMers use every day. I’ll be taking the lessons I learnt while working with my clients and using them to help other IBMers.
Just like with IBM in general, 2022 is an opportunity for me to create new solutions and implement new ideas and I’m personally very excited to be making this change — to create something new.
I hope to create some articles on my new ideas in the near future and of course, I’ll continue writing my “SRE lessons from Space Exploration” articles too!
For future lessons and articles, follow me here as Robert Barron or as @flyingbarron on Twitter and Linkedin. If you’ve got any questions or comments for me on any subject I write — whether it’s IBM solutions, Site Reliability Engineering, AIOps or anything else — drop me a line.